Title: They Are Billions
Developer: Numantian Games
Publisher: Numantian Games
Genre: Real Time Strategy, Survival
Available On: PC
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: http://www.numantiangames.com/theyarebillions/
Release Date: December 12, 2017 (Steam Early Access)
Where to Buy it: Steam
Dear lord, the stress. They Are Billions captures that frantic feeling of dread when the music picks up and you just hope that your defenses can hold out and keep your little camp of survivors from going under. It can verge on unfair, even at the “easiest” difficulties, and one small misstep can erase hours of progress in a survival game, but the reward for setting up a perfect defense and eradicating thousands of zombies in a few minutes of panic is an exhilarating experience that any good RTS fan should love.
At first glance, They Are Billions looks like any other generic real time strategy game. You start out with a few soldiers, a command center, a few resources, and a few options for what to build next. Quickly, you will start to realize just how well the resource limitations work to create a sense of panic as the zombies start to pound down your door.
Let’s say you begin by building a hunting lodge to gather food for your soldiers and citizens. That will take a few workers, meaning you’ll have to build more homes. Well, homes take power, so you have to build a mill. A mill takes workers, so you have to build more homes, which in turn means you need more food. Meanwhile, zombies will slowly start discovering your small colony, forcing you to spend resources on soldiers and micromanage your team.
And then a horde arrives. Hope your defenses were built up!
The HUD and graphics are serviceable enough. As the zombies bear down on you, it can be tough to differentiate where your troops are as opposed to your unarmed workers, who you cannot control directly. It can leave you feeling frustrated as you watch your base fall to the hordes and you realize you had a troop of soldiers tucked away somewhere, hidden amongst a group of buildings. Speaking of buildings, that’s also one of the most devious ways They Are Billions attacks you.
Anyone familiar with the zombie genre knows that all it takes is one slip up for an entire group of survivors to fall, and They Are Billions is well aware of this. If even one zombie breaks through your line or sneaks in from one direction while you are focused elsewhere, it will quickly multiply as it attacks buildings and kills your workers. If you are unable to respond quickly, those falling buildings will soon become an unstoppable wave of hungry undead, tearing through the inside of your base and crushing your hopes for survival. It captures the feeling of panic and dread that is essential for the zombie genre when that “Oh no!” moment hits and you watch all your plans fall apart because you overlooked one weak spot in your armor.
They Are Billions revels in the limitation of resources, and it isn’t just things like food and workers that you can build. You are always limited on space, trying to squeeze more buildings in so you don’t have to tear down carefully planned defenses. You are always limited on time, knowing another horde of shambling undead is just a few minutes away. These limitations help a great deal in adding to the sense of panic that the game is able to instill.
Unfortunately, the game itself is also a bit limited. It is still in Early Access, but They Are Billions just does not have that much to it at the moment. There is only one mode available right now: Survival. You are given a day to survive until, dropped onto the map, and that’s that. There are four maps and a few ways to adjust difficulty: more wandering zombies, how long you need to survive to win, etc. However, if you aren’t into the style of this mode, there isn’t much for you in They Are Billions. There is supposedly a Campaign mode on the way, but no indication of when or how much that will change up what the game has to offer.
That said, They Are Billions is a great deal of fun if you do like the style and difficulty. This is a game that teaches by killing you. There is no tutorial or chance to really learn how it works other than just sitting down and playing it. You will die and learn, then get further next time. You’ll try a new build order, and it will fail miserably. “OK,” you think. “Let’s not do that one again.” And when you do finally get through a survival map, you will not feel lucky. You will feel like you deciphered some elaborate puzzle, cracking the code to success. Time to adjust the difficulty sliders up a bit higher and try a brand new puzzle.
Verdict: There is a lot of good going on in They Are Billions. It’s difficult, well-designed, and satisfying. It portrays the sense of dread and panic that any good zombie media should. That said, there is not a lot to it at the moment. If you aren’t sure it will be up your alley, you may want to wait until it is a bit further along before diving in.
- Difficult and satisfying
- Instills a sense of panic
- Interesting design
- Can be unfairly punishing
- Not much to it at the moment